10 United signings who were worth the wait!
Jaap Stam’s admission that he could have joined Manchester United a season earlier than he eventually did prompted us to recall other prolonged pursuits in the transfer market.
In case you missed it, the iconic Treble-winning defender is the subject of this week’s episode of UTD Podcast – and next week's in fact, given the wealth of audio material we recorded with him.
During part one, Jaap revealed that he could have signed for the Reds ahead of the 1997/98 campaign, rather than the summer of 1998, but he decided to wait as he felt he was not yet ready.
The Dutchman wouldn’t be the first or last player United have had to be patient to get our hands on.
Ruud van Nistelrooy, Stam's compatriot, is perhaps the most obvious example, as a knee injury prevented him from completing his transfer from PSV in the year 2000.
Fortunately, Sir Alex Ferguson had kept in touch with the striker during his recovery – a common theme, as he would also regularly ring Stam – and van Nistelrooy eventually moved to Old Trafford a year later than originally planned, going on to score an incredible 150 goals in 219 games for the club.
Edwin van der Sar is another Dutch legend who was on Sir Alex’s wish list for years.
The goalkeeper had helped Ajax win the Champions League in 1995 and was among Europe’s most vaunted stoppers when he left the Netherlands four years later.
He was initially touted to succeed Peter Schmeichel but, with Mark Bosnich having already been captured on a free, van der Sar signed for Juventus instead and would have to wait until 2005 before joining the Reds
Schmeichel himself had been subject to prolonged interest from Sir Alex and he missed his first opportunity to leave Brondby when a fee could not be agreed.
The United manager then visited Schmeichel in Denmark and implored him to keep up the good form. Peter did just that and he eventually moved to Manchester in 1991, beginning a journey which would lead to him becoming arguably the club’s greatest goalkeeper of all time.
Jesper Blomqvist was another Treble winner whose acquisiton required patience and persistence from our legendary manager.
The Swede caught the eye in Gothenburg’s 3-1 Champions League win over United in 1994 and Sir Alex then made three attempts to entice him away from his next club AC Milan, as he looked for cover on the left side of midfield.
With Blomqvist eventually falling out of favour in Italy, the deal was finally done and Jesper played an important part in 1998/99, even starting the Champions League final at the Nou Camp.
Laurent Blanc was, like van der Sar, coming to the end of his career when he eventually became a United player in 2001.
The Frenchman had long been a transfer target for the Reds, with moves to prise the World Cup-winning defender from Auxerre, Barcelona and Internazionale all proving unsuccessful. Sir Alex eventually landed Blanc in August 2001, when he filled the void created by Stam's departure to Lazio.
Owen Hargreaves and his fellow midfielder Ander Herrera were signed after deals which involved long spells of negotiation.
Hargreaves joined from Bayern Munich in 2007 after a year of wrangling over fees, while we saw an initial bid for Herrera turned down by Athletic Bilbao in August 2013, before capturing the future Spain international in the next summer window.
Our list of 10 players we had to be patient for is completed by two current Reds, both of whom were linked with United long before their transfers last summer.
It’s common knowledge that Sir Alex was a huge fan of Raphael Varane and saw him as a long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. The French centre-back left his first club Lens in 2011 for a decade of glory at Real Madrid, but finally signed for the Reds and was unveiled on the Old Trafford pitch ahead of our first game of the 2021/22 season.
Jadon Sancho was also coveted for a while before completing his transfer from Borussia Dortmund last July. The England winger had been contracted to rivals Manchester City before making a huge impact in the German Bundesliga during a four-year-spell, and he’s now starting to show what he’s all about in the Premier League.
Listen to part one of the Jaap Stam podcast now in the United App.